Explore

Explore by Ecosystem

  • Open Sea

    Sunlit Zone Twilight Zone Midnight Zone Abyss Trenches Back

    Sunlit Zone

    Investigate the uppermost layer of the water, where abundant sunlight and wave action provide the energy for marine life.

    Twilight Zone

    So little sunlight penetrates this zone it’s impossible to gauge distance or direction – and yet animals thrive in this deep blue domain.

    Midnight Zone

    This is a truly lightless universe, dominated by animals whose soft bodies are specially adapted to help them absorb the intense water pressure.

    Abyss

    Continually dark, cold and deprived of nutrients, this area of the ocean area so deep it’s virtually impossible for scientists to study.

    Trenches

    Lost in eternal cold and darkness, marine trenches are cracks in the Earth’s surface often characterized by volcanic activity and earthquakes.

  • Coastal Waters

    Islands Continental Shelf Reefs Kelp Forests Bays Back

    Continental Shelf

    Explore the world which exists at the edge of the North American continent before it drops away into the open sea.

    Islands

    Surrounded and shaped by water, Oregon has over 3,000 islands providing vital habitat to many different animals, especially sea birds.

    Reefs

    Hidden just below the water’s surface, these rocky formations are haven to many marine animals and sometimes a hazard to sea-going vessels.

    Kelp Forests

    Marine forests play as similar role to those on land, providing food and shelter to animals of all sizes and descriptions.

    Bays

    Explore these broad, protected inlets where the land curves inward and provides a sheltered haven from the sea and the weather.

  • Coastal Areas

    Headlands Meadows Uplands Dunes Woodlands Estuaries Forests Coast Range Mountains Back Beaches

    Headlands

    Wander the diverse plant and animal communities of these high points of land point of high land that juts into a large body of water, such as a lake or ocean.

    Meadows

    Explore these lush tracts of grassland located just below the timberline, home to a diverse range of species.

    Uplands

    Drenched by winter rains, parched by the summer sun, these hills and terraces provide for an ever-changing landscape at the base of the mountains.

    Dunes

    Created by the grinding action of the ocean and sculpted by wind, discover how the coastal dunes are so much more than just sand.

    Woodlands

    Dominated by trees but with a thick understory of grass and brush, explore these diverse transitional areas between ecosystems.

    Estuaries

    Discover where the mouth of a river meets the ocean and why these are areas are so important to both marine and terrestrial animals.

    Forests

    Dominated by trees, the forests of the Pacific Northwest are some of the oldest and most complex on the planet.

    Coast Range Mountains

    Climb to misty mountaintops and discover primeval forests, amazing animals and the hidden headwaters of streams and rivers.

    Beaches

    Whether constructed of sand, gravel, pebbles or cobblestones, beaches are the area where most people experience the ocean firsthand.

  • Inland Areas

    Forests Woodlands Uplands Riparian Areas Lakes and Ponds Coast Range Mountains Valleys Meadows Back

    Forests

    Dominated by trees, the forests of the Pacific Northwest are some of the oldest and most complex on the planet.

    Woodlands

    Dominated by trees but with a thick understory of grass and brush, explore these diverse transitional areas between ecosystems.

    Uplands

    Drenched by winter rains, parched by the summer sun, these hills and terraces provide for an ever-changing landscape at the base of the mountains.

    Riparian Areas

    Whether in the flowing waters or along the banks, discover the hidden worlds and species of Oregon’s coastal rivers.

    Lakes and Ponds

    From the largest lake to the smallest frog pond, discover how these still waters provide habitat and water supplies for both wild animals and people.

    Coast Range Mountains

    Climb to misty mountaintops and discover primeval forests, amazing animals and the hidden headwaters of streams and rivers.

    Valleys

    Whether cut by rivers or carved by glaciers, valleys are protected areas where both people and animals find food, shelter and water.

    Meadows

    Explore these lush tracts of grassland located just below the timberline, home to a diverse range of species.

About Earth's Ecosystems

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Open Sea

The largest and least understood area of the world ocean, it covers 70% of the Earth's surface with depths so dark and cold they're nearly impossible to explore.

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Coastal Areas

These are the areas immediately adjacent to the ocean and can include ecosystems such as beaches, estuaries, islands and headlands.

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Inland Areas

Starting with the coastal mountain ranges and stretching east, this includes all of the adjacent valleys, forests, woodlands and riparian areas.

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Coastal Waters

These are the ocean waters closest to the land, beginning where the breakers hit the beach and stretching over 100 miles out to sea.

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